A banner at a campus of the Australian Catholic University has been vandalized with graffiti attacking Cardinal George Pell, a day after the appeal of his conviction for historical child sex abuse was denied.
The banner was defaced on Thursday night at the Ballarat campus of the university, which has a Pell Centre named for the cardinal, who was born in the city.
The banner was advertising an open day at the campus and was smeared with the words “PELL RAPED KIDS”.
According to The Courier, the banner was removed on Friday.
The Ballarat newspaper also published an email sent to students and staff on Friday saying the university would take up the issue of changing the name of the center after Pell had exhausted the legal appeals in his case.
— The Courier (@ballaratcourier) August 23, 2019
“At the point of final legal resolution, the University’s Senate will then consider the position, in line with established policies and procedures. This has been a very difficult process for many in our community. Our thoughts and prayers as always are with all survivors of sexual abuse and their families,” said the communication signed by Greg Craven, the vice chancellor and president of the university.
“There are a lot of things I would like to say but I really can’t. We have strictly been told not to talk to the press … This involves pedophilia. I think you can imagine how most of us are feeling,” a member of the campus community told The Courier.
Pell was convicted of historic sex abuse in December, and immediately launched an appeal. On Wednesday the Victoria appeals court announced that they had upheld Pell’s guilty conviction in a 2-1 split vote.
The case has polarized Australia, with many rejoicing that a high-ranking cleric has finally been punished for serious crimes after years of impunity, and others viewing Pell as a scapegoat convicted on the basis of improbable testimony.
Pell has 28 days to appeal to the Australian High Court.
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